Computer genius Sydney Bloom accidentally makes a virtual-reality connection. When her co-worker asks her for a date, in the virtual-reality world she sees the man as a killer. And the mysterious man who appeared the night in 1978 that her father and twin sister were killed in a car accident has reappeared.
On her first VR assignment for The Committee, Sydney must find an unhappy and spiteful teenage genius -- who has disappeared from the top secret weapons research establishment where he worked -- before he can do any harm.
Sydney becomes entangled in a dangerous game when she investigates the mind of a female cashier at her workplace who she spots stealing. But each time she tries to "teach her a lesson", Sydney herself gets pulled into the excitement of a hold-up, and the VR scenario diverts dangerously from the script.
Sydney discovers troubled Committee employee Jackson Boothe is an assassin when she tries to convince him to return to work. But in the end, he kills Scott.
Oliver Sampson becomes Sydney's new contact for the Committee, and tries to trace who hired Boothe. Sydney discovers Scott's body has been put on ice.
Sydney is kidnapped by a faction of the Committee who brutally interrogate her to discover her secret. She manages to contact Duncan for help, and he goes into VR to search for her. Is Sampson the villain, or on her side? And why does he have her father's journal?
Oliver gives Sydney instructions to make a VR link to a test pilot in a psychiatric hospital. Why does he keep seeing fire, and why does he hate his father? Sydney also enters the hospital undercover, as a patient, which leads to uncovering some painful memories which seem to be of child abuse, and she discovers her father was a member of the Committee.
Sydney enters VR to probe the mind of a condemned self-confessed traitor, to find out why he did it, before he is executed. She discovers he was being blackmailed by people who held his son hostage, but cannot stop the execution. The bank is foreclosing on her childhood home, but she finally gets around to asking the Committee for money, to save it.
Sydney returns to her childhood home in Pasadena, where she begins to retrieve memories of her past. She discovers a secret room in the house, where her father conducted his early VR experiments. But why does an ex-resident of the house think is is possessed by demons and want to see it destroyed, whereas his daughter insists an angel saved her life during a fire? Is the angel Sydney's long-dead twin sister, Sam?
Sydney is ordered to establish a VR link when an armed man takes hostages in an air traffic control tower. She finds a cover-up over the reason for a crash several years earlier, which was actually caused by a bomb planted by the Committee trying to kill Oliver.
Disillusioned and indifferent, Oliver assigns Sydney to an unknown contact. Going into VR, Sydney experiences a scene on an East German railway platform with Oliver and his former lover, which may hold a possible link to Sydney's father.
Duncan wakes up to discover that he is a wealthy and successsful artist and that Samantha, not Sydney, is the living sister. He and Samantha end up on the run from the Committee. But this is just Dr Bloom's VR scenario to test Duncan's loyalty. But maybe Dr Bloom isn't all he seems to be, either.
Sydney and Samantha are reunited, and go with Duncan into VR5 to discover what really happened that fateful night. There was no car crash: Sydney's memories were altered by her father to protect her from the Committee, and she is 'remembering' his and Samantha's abduction. Sydney goes into VR7 to rescue her mother, who was trapped there by that memory altering process, and succeeds, but gets trapped herself.